Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 7 Hansard (22 August) . . Page.. 1896..
MR MULCAHY: I feel like I am talking to myself, Mr Speaker, but I will persist. I would like the Assembly to note the Liberal Party's strong opposition, and that of many in the Canberra community, to this ill-considered plan. It is a move that will be a severe blow to local businesses and workers. I am concerned that the hospitality industry would be hardest hit by this decision to add another public holiday to Canberra's calendar. Restaurants, cinemas and other venues will suffer because they will have to pay public holiday rates to their staff, and these increased costs will inevitably be passed on to the customers.
I have spoken to small business owners who have expressed their frustration to me and have said that Melbourne Cup Day is simply not profitable enough to justify doubling or tripling their wage bill. Additional costs will not be able to be met, and what should be a profitable day will not be. Even all of those businesses which have hosted Melbourne Cup functions and enjoyed profitable days will now struggle to make ends meet on that day as people either go to the races or leave Canberra. It is interesting that even the racing fraternity have raised the consequences for them, saying they need another 1,500 or 1,600 people—
MR SPEAKER: Mr Mulcahy, it seems that you are anticipating debate on a bill.
MR MULCAHY: Have we got this bill?
MR SPEAKER: The Holidays (Canberra Day) Amendment Bill—
MR MULCAHY: No, that is to do with Canberra Day, Mr Speaker. This is about the minister's announcement at the Labor Party conference to have one on Melbourne Cup Day. The legislation has not been introduced.
MR SPEAKER: Yes, you are right. I am sorry for interrupting.
MR MULCAHY: That is all right. I repeat: even all of those business which have hosted Melbourne Cup functions and enjoyed profitable days will now struggle to make ends meet as people either go to the races or leave Canberra. On the Monday, I suspect that a lot of people will pack up and go down to Melbourne, to the coast or to Sydney. This will affect casual workers, as they would miss out on shifts on a day when businesses would otherwise be open.
However, the most absurd fact that would emerge from this decision would be that, if it went ahead, Canberra would be the only place in Australia, apart from metropolitan Melbourne, to have a public holiday on Melbourne Cup Day. The ACT government must wonder why other Australian jurisdictions have not thought about including it as a public holiday on their own calendars. This is because other states and territories understand the day's value to small business and the economy. They also understand that, whilst most Australians certainly have an interest in the cup, it is essentially an event unique to Melbourne, and should therefore remain a holiday solely for Melburnians.
I also wonder whether the ACT government has considered the fact that many people will also take the Monday before Melbourne Cup Day off work in order to have an